Our crosses can come in many forms, but two primary ones are circumstances and people. Circumstances tend to pass, which makes these crosses may last a long time or may pass rather quickly. In either case, we need to be selfless by embracing the cross for others.
Consider the following example: let’s say a person has the circumstantial cross of unemployment. This particular cross is hard because it is not only a material cross but also a psychological cross of the stigma of being unemployed, which tends to be conflated with being unwanted, like that person is not good enough. Yet, this cross presents an opportunity for the unemployed person to build his or her relationship with God.
The person can say, “No matter what my circumstances are, especially in this case being unemployed, I still believe that God is loving and merciful and cares about me. I still believe that a spiritual richness is a greater thing than any material richness. Furthermore, I believe that what others say about my unemployed state is nothing compared to what God thinks of this state. Whatever God allows to happen with me will be used by God to bring about a good that will help me or someone else. I am willing to be a sacrifice like Christ was for me on the Cross.”
This person who is unemployed is putting his or her faith totally in God through multiple acts of faith: the person believes God is Love, Mercy, and true to his word; the person believes that what God thinks matters more than what others think; and the person is willing to be on the cross for the sake of being like Christ.
One way to help people like this carry their cross is to pray for them. For example, when you get hired for a new job, you might think about all the applicants who did not get the position and then pray for them. You might say a prayer like the following: “God, I know there were many people who applied for this job, and some of these people may really need a job still. Thank you for giving me this job, and please help the other applicants to find another job that is a good fit for them as soon as possible; please grant them all that they need.”
In this example, the person who just got hired for a job thanks God for the gift of the job and remembers those who may be in the state they were just in, which was unemployment, or employment in an undesirable situation, and the newly-employed person asks God to bless those people.
In both examples, we see selflessness and the cross. In the first example, the person lives the Cross; in the second example, the person stands at the foot of the Cross. In the first example, the person is like Christ; in the second example, the person is like Mary, St. John, and St. Mary Magdalene.
It is worth reflecting today on what gifts we have, and what crosses, both circumstantial and personal, we have. In the case of gifts, we should thank God for those gifts, and if the gift is finite, pray for those who may have sought the same, or have needed the same; in the case of the cross, bring forth acts of faith in God, and through love, lift up your cross and follow Him, who is the Way, Truth, and Life.
How to learn more
To learn more about the Carmelite tradition in general, check out Midnight Carmelite episodes through the player below and hit subscribe to stay up to date!